FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) – Following his first 300-yard passing game in 2002, Michael Vick believed many more would come.

The Atlanta quarterback still has just one, and a personal goal he set for 3,000 yards this season is likely unattainable. He only wishes he could claim that statistics mean nothing to him.

“I’m not going to lie. I do (care),” Vick said Wednesday. “The only stat that counts is if you win games. I understand that, but still, I don’t want my stats to look bad or not be up to par.”

Given that the Falcons (5-2) entered their bye week tied with Seattle for the NFC’s second-best winning percentage, Vick was adamant he has no plans to lodge a complaint with coach Jim Mora or offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

Atlanta’s run-first offense used a similar approach last year in advancing to the conference title game, but Vick hopes the team can create more balance.

Looking at numbers posted by Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck and other quarterbacks who run an offense similar to Atlanta’s, Vick realizes that averaging just 21.6 passing attempts per game makes 3,000 yards impossible.

“I don’t know if I can,” Vick said. “Maybe not, man. My passing attempts are not where they need to be. I need to throw the ball 30 to 40 times a game for me to have those numbers, but our run game’s so good.”

that I won’t say it’s hurting me, but I won’t complain, because it’s a lot easier and it takes a lot of pressure off me, too.”

Yes, Atlanta has managed to improve on a running game that led the league last year for the first time in franchise history. After rushing for 155 yards in a 13-point win Monday night over the New York Jets, Warrick Dunn has 732 this season and ranks third in the NFL.

Vick’s dazzling ability to elude defenders has helped him rank atop the NFC with 6.2 yards per carry and No. 1 overall in converting 44.9 of his carries for first downs. T.J. Duckett leads the conference in fewest runs stuffed at the line of scrimmage (one in 45 attempts) after leading that category last year.

“I think that is our identity,” Vick said. “We run the football whether it’s Warrick, T.J. or me. That’s what makes our game go. If that’s the way it’s going to be, as long as we keep winning and as long as I make my plays when I have to, things are all good.”

Still, Vick longs for more chances to connect with his receivers. He completed just 11 of 26 passes for 116 yards and a 16.3 passer rating against New York.

After hearing Knapp rave recently about the team’s work in a hurry-up offense, Vick wondered why the team doesn’t start a game with a no-huddle, two-minute approach that would force opponents into traditional schemes that don’t mask coverages.

“Our hurry-up offense and our tempo are outstanding,” Vick said. “We’ve just got to use it a little bit more. I’m pretty sure they’ll come up with some type of scheme in order to get the two-minute drill or the hurry-up offense going. Once we start doing that and we mature as an offense, man, the sky’s the limit.”

Knapp, who brought a version of the West Coast offense from San Francisco nearly two years ago, still believes Vick’s ability to remain calm under pressure will help him develop as a passer.

“We’re from two opposite backgrounds, but whatever’s inside of him, from his core growing up, there’s a quality I like in that he enjoys the game still as a kid,” Knapp said. “I think that’s important at this level, because at this level the pressures are there. They will always be there, but as long as you see that core enjoyment of the game, I think that’s important.”

Vick, 25, doesn’t deny occasional frustrations, but the two-time Pro Bowl selection attributes part of his 30-15-1 career record to releasing his anger and focusing his energy in a positive way.

“The last two years, sometimes it’s been a little difficult,” Vick said. “Last year I started out in a new offense, so I kind of expected things not to go as well, but this year I was expecting a lot on myself, and it looks like I’m not on pace to do what I set my goals at. We’ve got nine games left, and there’s still room for improvement.”

AP-ES-10-26-05 1943EDT

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